We went to a Christmas Eve service at a Baptist church in Georgia. This church recently decided to abandon its downtown location and move to the suburbs where it has built a functional, and actually quite nice, new building.
I was fine with the service for the most part until it came time for communion. The minister asked the deacons to come forward.
More than 20 people rose and came forward.
All of them male.
Every blasted one of them. Male.
Of course I knew going into it that this church did not have women deacons. But seeing those twenty men up there at the front of this huge church, I knew it in a new way--viscerally, in my heart.
I was surprised by how painful it was for me. Tears stung my eyes.
We receive communion, the body and blood of Jesus who was the Christ, to say Yes to being with Christ as the disciples were with Christ. Two thousand years forward in time and that same Christ is present among us, too, and that same Christ continues to invite all to the table, to know this Holy Presence and Power in our lives. No one is excluded. Samaritans? yes. Tax collectors? yes. All are invited.
I found it repugnant that in an action signifying loving and gracious inclusion, radical welcome and holy hospitality, people who happen to be women were excluded from serving.
I declined to participate.
And I believe that Jesus stands with me, weeping the same tears of anger and pain.